About 30 people with decades of experience in radio recently gathered in a WBEZ studio to listen to a podcast written and created by a 5-year-old.
Azka Sharief of suburban Des Plaines told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that she always wanted to make her own podcast.
So she came to WBEZ’s studios on Navy Pier last week to work with the station’s podcast team and record the first episode of Azka’s Mystery Podcast.
The episode, which Azka named “The Stealer of the Diamonds,” centers around the story of Tessa, a thief who’s stealing everything in town, even “candy from babies.” We won’t spoil the ending, but if you’ve got five minutes, you can hear what happens by streaming the podcast here.
The podcast had more than 4,000 listens on SoundCloud as of this afternoon.
Azka has a health condition and was referred to Make-A-Wish by her medical team. Mila Rao from Make-A-Wish of Illinois said her team could not recall the organization ever granting a wish similar to Azka’s.
Rao called the experience “amazing.”
“It was cool because the wish really did come from Azka,” Rao said. “Her parents obviously supported her, but it was so clear that it came from her.”
Rao also complimented Azka on her presentation.
“She reads with such inflection and expression,” Rao said of the girl, “which I think is pretty outstanding for her age.”
Azka told WBEZ she wanted as many people as possible to listen to her podcast. Make-A-Wish set up an email account so Azka can hear from her fans: AzkasWish@gmail.com.
WBEZ’s Carrie Shepherd, who attended the podcast listening event, thanked Azka for spending time at the studio.
“To see someone so young have such a keen ear for radio and sense of storytelling was rewarding,” Shepherd said. “To see someone so young with such a full, fun personality was even better.”
“I can’t wait to see what story Azka tells next,” Shepherd added.
Back in the studio — after the group of WBEZ reporters, Make-A-Wish employees and Azka’s family listened to her podcast the first time — Azka had a question for everyone:
“Do you want to hear it again?”